Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Day In Beautiful's Life

I'm glad I caught this image this morning because it's the one I see every day when I feed. Beautiful has developed this funny habit of rearing up so that she can see over the divider where I'm usually divvying up the hay into the wheel barrow. I'll see her head peek up over, with her mane flying in the air, several times before I get to her.

Here are some pictures of her as I pulled up to the barn and said hello.

This was my day yesterday with Beautiful:

1. Groom her and try to get the mud she somehow found off her coat. Some horses try really hard to stay clean--I have white horses that are still white, for instance. Beautiful, on the other hand, is one of those horses who TRIES to be dirty.

2. Worm her for tapeworms. Beautiful eats and eats, yet doesn't get fat like the others. She eats more and weighs less--what's up with that? Is she a "hard-keeper?" When I went out this morning to rummage through her manure--I couldn't find a sign of a worm! I guess I should just be happy that's she's full of energy and accept the fact that she may always be lean of build--or maybe a late-bloomer.

3. Clean Beautiful's Stall.

Here's Beautiful's day yesterday--

1. After I'm groomed I will go roll in whatever dirty spot I can find.

2. Eat and eat and eat and eat--but keep my girlish figure.

3. Mess up my stall so that I can keep my owner busy.

4. Rear up several times per day to challenge the pony and let everyone know I'm BORED.

5. Rip off gutters (if owner is foolish enough to put them back up), chew my wood door down a few inches, pull out plug in waterer.

6. Play with the barn cats--pretend I'm going to stomp on them and chase them out of my run, then sniff them through the bars.

7. Sleep a little here and there.

She was funny yesterday. When she saw me come with the halter, she ran away and snorted like she was going to make me catch her. Then, she got to the end of her run and started thinking and ran back to me. It's like she remembered, oh yeah, I'm bored and I like visits from her--why am I running away?!? She seemed all too eager to be groomed and petted after that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two Steps Forward, Four Steps Back

I had my riding lesson with Cowboy yesterday at the barn next door. Because of the COLD and ICE, we'd been laid off riding for a couple of weeks. What a mistake!!

Everything was bad. He was sore on his left front where he had the broken P3--probably because of the wet and cold aggravating what may be the beginning of arthritis in that joint.

I don't know which is worse--cold and ice or rainy and cold--but I'm leaning toward rainy and cold as worse. It chills you to the bone, and the MUD! Yuck! I'm actually starting to think snow isn't so bad.

Anyway, back to the lesson, Cowboy was just slightly off, but enough to feel it, and my trainer thought she could see it.

At the beginning of the lesson, when I saddled and rode him over to the arena, he was great--especially for not having been ridden in so long. He was calm and walked out nicely--no jig or spooks--until we got to the property where the arena sits. Then, everything scared him--the box, the cows mooing for what appeared to be a late dinner, the birds that flew out right as he crossed through a puddle/lake. It blew his cool. (I think the cows were the catalyst--they were really worked up).

None of that was a big deal, it was actually fun to work him through it and get him to the arena.

The not-so-fun part of the experience was that he wasn't paying attention during the lesson. Which meant, we had to work on meticulous things--elementary, primary, boring stuff--all lesson. It was like starting again.

Moral of the story: DON'T TAKE TIME OFF.

Let's see, what else has happened in horseville? Beautiful discovered a new trick--waiting until the automatic waterer drains and then pulling the plug out with her teeth. Yep. And, another, sticking her head through the bars and pulling the gutters off the barn. Uh huh. Too smart for her own good--prognosis--easily bored and needs a full-time job.

Other than that, same ole, same ole--all is well, muddy and wet and cold, but well. I'm starting a new blog about my piano lessons because with things slowing down through winter in the horse world and Beautiful doing so well, more of my attention is being directed at piano mastery--a slow process, I'm here to tell you. Things I have to work on: 1.) Stage fright, 2.) Stage fright, 3.) Stage fright, 4.) Everything else.

Hope all is well in your worlds and you're getting time to ride--come rain and mud or snow and ice!

Happy Trails and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Traditions: December Moon Over a Night Barn

I love barns at night. The soft light emanating in the darkness. You just know the animals are in there, warm, well-fed, secure.

Especially during the Christmas season, barns take on added meaning. I was playing Christmas songs on the piano last night and I was struck by this line in What Child is This?, my favorite of all the Christmas songs:

Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?

I remember posting a picture of this exact same moon last Fall. As a matter of fact, I used it as part of the banner for this blog. (Above) And there it was again last night. I called it the December Moon. It's born of frost and sunshine.

My farrier came out yesterday. We both agreed we'd love winter if every day was like yesterday. Beautiful moon. Sunshine. Cold.

And then, this morning--frost on the ground and Beautiful waiting in her new/old enclosure for breakfast. We had our first official "lesson" (because every day, no matter what you do, you are giving them lessons) in months yesterday--going over the basics again of disengaging front and hind-quarters. At first she was a little confused when I approached her from the side--as if I was Cowgirl, the alpha mare, getting ready to bite her. I saw it in her eyes, so I stopped and reassured her--it's me--I'm fair--I'm predictable--I don't bite.

I rubbed her neck a little bit and then asked for her step. She disengaged and crossed over nicely, like I wanted. I took the one step and reassured her again. She licked her lips and relaxed and the rest of the lesson was just wonderful. Partnership--no fear. She tucked her head and backed up with the slightest pressure on the nose, she moved fluidly each time I asked it of her. Now that is one filly who is happy to be with humans again.

I'm glad I introduced her to the herd for the summer, but in all honesty, she didn't seem to really blend well with them. She was happy to get away from them, and they were thrilled to get Cowboy back.

The farrier visit was beyond great. If there was a mark higher than A+, she'd get it. She picks up her feet now as she sees him approach them. She does it for me, as well. I think if she could pick out her own feet, she'd do it. After he was done she followed him around wanting to be in his back pocket. I guess all humans are looking pretty good to her right now.

Here's Mount Spokane this morning as I went out to feed them, but where is the moon?

Here it is, in the West.

See this paper angel on the tree? My kids and I put it up last weekend. I love putting up the tree. We have an artificial one because I grew up with an artificial. The tree becomes its own tradition, just like the ornaments.

This angel was something I purchased a long time ago when I was teaching. I believe my oldest son was only a year old at the time. One of the teachers brought them into the lounge and sold them. I bought this one and it became our tree angel. Each year the kids take turns putting it on.

She looks pretty raggedy at this point, I had to hem her dress with tape, but she keeps coming out each year to do her job.

And the foyer is transformed yet again--to Christmas.

What family traditions do you have? Favorite Christmas songs? CDs? Ornaments? Trees? Food? I'll be the first to answer this question in comments. We have lots and lots of traditions and I love every one of them.

Traditions are like that December Moon, something that returns, something that, when everything falls down around you and your life is in chaos, are there to guide you to safety.